Metabolomics and molecular marker analysis to explore pepper (Capsicum sp.) biodiversity

Abstract.  An overview of the metabolic diversity in ripe fruits of a collection of 32 diverse pepper (Capsicum sp.) accessions was obtained by measuring the composition of both semi-polar and volatile metabolites in fruit pericarp, using untargeted LC–MS and headspace GC–MS platforms, respectively. Accessions represented C. annuum, C. chinense, C. frutescens and C. baccatum species, which were selected based on variation in morphological characters, pungency and geographic origin. Genotypic analysis using AFLP markers confirmed the phylogenetic clustering of accessions according to Capsicum species and separated C. baccatum from the C. annuum–C. chinense–C. frutescens complex. Species-specific clustering was also observed when accessions were grouped based on their semi-polar metabolite profiles. In total 88 semi-polar metabolites could be putatively identified. A large proportion of these metabolites represented conjugates of the main pepper flavonoids (quercetin, apigenin and luteolin) decorated with different sugar groups at different positions along the aglycone. In addition, a large group of acyclic diterpenoid glycosides, called capsianosides, was found to be highly abundant in all C. annuum genotypes. In contrast to the variation in semi-polar metabolites, the variation in volatiles corresponded well to the differences in pungency between the accessions. This was particularly true for branched fatty acid esters present in pungent accessions, which may reflect the activity through the acyl branch of the metabolic pathway leading to capsaicinoids. In addition, large genetic variation was observed for many wellestablished pepper aroma compounds. These profiling data can be used in breeding programs aimed at improving metabolite-based quality traits such as flavour and health- Electronic supplementary material The online version of this related metabolites in pepper fruits.

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